Industrial Wireless: Improving Performance for a Speedy Return on Investment

Industrial wireless applications continue to demonstrate substantial cost savings, productivity increases, security improvements and regulatory compliance. Considering these major benefits, manufacturing companies can expect a rapid return on their investments. In fact, many companies realize an ROI within one year.According to market analyst IMS Research, wireless-enabled industrial products are expected to grow at an 18 percent compounded annual growth rate (CAGR). World shipments reached 1.2 million in 2009 and will climb to an estimated 3 million in 2015. The many advantages of industrial wireless applications are fueling this sizeable growth, with the most noteworthy being a quick ROI.However, market trends show the migration to industrial wireless is moving away from simply an ROI justification. With the advantages of this technology well known, the ROI almost becomes a given. Instead, many companies remain focused on the wide-scale benefits they’ll receive and the innovative applications they can deploy.Capturing Cost SavingsTraditional networks require tons of expensive copper wiring. Traditional wiring also requires conduit and substantial construction. In addition to costing more for materials and labor, these wired networks require regular maintenance. The physical nature of copper wiring provides a less reliable infrastructure.If these wiring costs can be eliminated, the overall network investment is reduced dramatically. Performance is also enhanced. As a result, industrial companies are able to venture into projects they might otherwise not be able to afford.For example, if a manufacturing facility covers a large geographical area, establishing a network infrastructure and monitoring capabilities across remote locations can extremely costly. In some cases, they may even be impossible because of environmental conditions.Industrial wireless enables access to points physically or economically hard to access. With a wireless infrastructure, industrial facilities can easily expand operations and connect geographically disparate locations. Wireless applications can work well within the most demanding environments. They break down barriers to serve areas that otherwise would be too costly, difficult or labor-intensive to implement, or may not have access to power.Ramping Up ProductivityIndustrial wireless improves operations by eliminating most, if not all, manual processes. Communication is streamlined. Tracking of information becomes efficient and aids any necessary troubleshooting.And, operational data is collected automatically and available digitally. This capability improves data accuracy and consistency. Wireless transmitters provide accurate monitoring for processes and assets in difficult and/or remote locations. The resulting data can be used for improved decision-making and process improvements.Therefore, the benefit to industrial wireless network is not just eliminating the costs associated with physical wiring and manual systems. One of the key benefits of wireless remains the ability to integrate crucial operating data into existing systems and sharing this information to improve productivity.Ensuring Regulatory ComplianceIn many cases, industrial wireless applications help companies comply with federal law and regulatory requirements. An example includes compliance with the 1972 Clean Water Act and the Water Quality Act of 1987 created by the Environmental Protection Agency. The goal of these acts is to restore and maintain U.S. waters to quality levels. Specifically, the act regulates storm water runoff.Large manufacturing facilities must monitor and regulate the water runoff that enters into any U.S. waters or municipal storm sewer systems. This monitoring has traditionally been a very arduous process. However, industrial wireless systems eliminate the manual processes associated with assuring compliance.Compared to traditional network infrastructures, industrial wireless can be deployed quickly, economically and easily. Wireless networks allow plant workers to adapt readily to changing conditions, gather critical information and optimize processes. The infrastructure investment is streamlined to provide an impressive ROI. These benefits allow projects to move forward that may otherwise have been unable to justify.